Fragile Things Read-Along, Part the Eighth

But I don’t want the read-along to be over! I’ve had so much fun these last eight weeks reading and commenting and enjoying everyone’s posts! Guys, let’s all trade addresses and stuff so we can keep in touch when we have to go back home! Or URLs, I guess. I’m getting old. My point is, I like you guys. Thanks for hanging out with me. πŸ™‚

I was sort of hoping that this book would go out on some amazing high note and that I would explode from the happiness of it all, but of course this is real life and so it didn’t quite do that. But, I did add another story to my list of Awesomest Stories of the Collection, so it was certainly a good week. Let’s see what else happened!

“The Day the Saucers Came”
Niiiice. I liked listening to this first, because I couldn’t skip ahead and see how long it was or see how it would repeat itself, and so I was pleasantly surprised on both counts. It’s a short poem-shaped story about a day when a lot of crazy stuff happened but you didn’t notice. I liked that Gaiman just piles on the crazy stuff and that he makes it sound so good β€” I just want to say “the saucer day the zombie day / The Ragnarok and fairies day” over and over β€” and I like that the reason you miss out on it all is because you’re hoping someone will call you. That is some serious hope, people, and I have certainly experienced it in my life! Did I miss Ragnarok? I’m gonna be so mad if I did, largely because I’m gonna have to go repopulate the world now, and that sounds like effort.

“Sunbird”
This is definitely on my top stories list. I loved listening to it and I loved reading it and I may go do both again because it just makes me so happy. I’m not quite sure why. Let’s see. I like the Epicurean Club and how they’re all, “But I am le tired of beetles and I’ve eaten everything else!” I like that no one takes Zebediah seriously until it’s way too late. It tickles me pink that one should leave on a Sunday to go to Suntown to catch a Sunbird. I love the line, “I am an academic […] and thus have no finely developed sense that would be comprehensible to anyone who has not ever needed to grade papers without actually reading the blessed things.” And I would really like to try some beer-can phoenix. After I go eat some charcoal, of course.

“Inventing Aladdin”
Eh. This is definitely the weak story of the bunch. It’s another poem thing, this time about Scheherazade and her thoughts on making up stories and stuff. So it’s really about making up stories in general, and how you work with what you’ve got and hope for the best. It’s not bad, but it’s not especially excellent and I’ve not much to say about it.

“Monarch of the Glen”
Apparently I’m to end up reading through the American Gods universe backward, seeing as how I started with Anansi Boys and may someday get to American Gods proper. So I’m not quite sure what I’m missing in the background to this novella, is what I’m saying. But I still quite enjoyed it. You’ve got this fellow called Shadow and all he wants is a nice quiet holiday, but then he gets drawn into a very strange set-up perpetrated by our old friends Smith and Mr. Alice. There’s a mysterious house and a mysterious party and a very mysterious tradition that I’m still not entirely clear on. But, there’s also Norse mythology and Grendel and so who needs clarity? Well, no, I would have liked a bit more… I feel like I’m missing something very obvious (like when I couldn’t recognize a vampire in The Graveyard Book) and if someone could just tell me what, exactly, Gaskell was lying about, that would be fantastic. The other thing that kept me from really appreciating the story isn’t exactly the fault of the story, but is that after reading, what, thirty short stories in the rest of the book, I was not quite prepared for such a long story, with its description and sidebars and taking its sweet time and all. I think it’ll probably be much better once I go get some American Gods in my brain and come back to this story on its own, yes?

So that’s it! Thank you all for joining me in this delightful adventure; we really must do it again some time. And maybe this will be the start of a lovely short-story reading habit? I think that’s a good idea!

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10 thoughts on “Fragile Things Read-Along, Part the Eighth

  1. Alison says:

    I must! I had no idea that American Gods existed when I picked up Anansi Boys, which is why I allowed myself to read them out of order. πŸ™‚

  2. Carl V. says:

    I know there is a new version of American Gods coming out but if I could recommend anything I would recommend you listen to the current version with George Guidall. This is one of those rare times when not having Gaiman read his stories really works. Guidall is EXCELLENT and while I enjoyed reading American Gods very much, I feel that Guidall's reading is really THE way to experience it.

    Glad you enjoyed The Day the Saucers Came. It is so geekily romantic and fun that I just love it. I like how it builds and builds and builds upon itself. I could even stand for it to be a bit longer, but I enjoy it as is.

    Sunbird is so fantastic. I love how everyone is conned by Zebediah and how he almost taunts them along the way with his obvious preparation for the big day and his misdirection every time one of them mentions something which makes you realize that they at one time remembered how this story played out but had all forgotten.

    As you know I got quite a bit out of Inventing Aladdin. It is far from my favorite of his poems and I can take it or leave it, but I still find a lot of amazing talking points in there.

    And of course I LOVE the Shadow novella. It is kind of funny that you are reading the AG stories in reverse, but the beauty of them is that they actually stand alone well and when you read AG you'll have some real interesting perspectives as things fall into place.

    So glad you joined us. I feel the same way you do, that we should all be promising to write each other every day now that summer camp is ending!

  3. Alison says:

    Carl β€” I will trust in you and go track down that audio version. πŸ™‚ And yes, I could definitely have listened to more and more crazy things happening on the day the saucers came. Someone really had it in for Earth, eh?

  4. Emily Barton says:

    Yes, we must exchange cards and keep in touch (and hope the saucers and zombies don't all come while we wait to hear from each other). You're not the only one reading AG stories backwards. So am I! I listened to Abandons Boys years ago (it was the only Neil Gaiman audio the library had at the time) and still haven't read AG. I will now, though. I love the fact that you and I often have had very different reactions to the works in this collection, nut you've made me see things I've missed. It's been fun!

  5. Alison says:

    Carl β€” I was thinking the same think! Watch out for Daleks!

    Emily β€” Yes! That's the best part of reading with other people, is that they can tell you how silly you're being for not seeing all the “obvious” things. πŸ™‚ I learn so much more this way!

  6. Carl V. says:

    LOL, Emily! Between your comments on my site and here with your smart phone I'm thinking you need to write your own poem using it. Would be interesting to see what would come out of it.

  7. bookswithoutanypictures says:

    Sunbird was a lot of fun. I have friends who are diehard foodies, and who always lament that I am allergic to nuts and shellfish. I think that if I hung out with these guys, I'd need to invent some allergies to avoid trying disgusting things… “But seriously guys, I'm allergic to beetles! Cockroaches have hard exteriors… guess I can't try them. Bummer!”

    I also loved “Day the Saucers Came.” Knowing me, I'd sleep through Ragnarok.

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